Saturday, December 26, 2009

Nightlife – review


Director: Timothy Sanderson

Release date: 2008

Contains spoilers

I saw this at the Bram Stoker International Film Festival and, in my report back I said “I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had a great cast and fantastic dialogue and the audience all seemed to find that it hit the funny bone.”

Maria Collins as KateI was lucky enough to be sent a screener disc and it was nice to sit down with a film and know that the resultant review was going to be positive. The reason for this, beyond the script and cast, was the fact that the filmmakers knew their limitations. The film is a mockumentary and thus the level of cameras used is perfect, any flaws in lighting – a problem with the documentary filmmaking process. Said documentary is being made by Ian (Michael Mergan), Mike (Ryan Sullivan) and Kate (Maria Collins). Their subject, vampires and the hunters who hunt them.

Henry - crispy critterThe film actually starts with Henry (Alex Tosspon), who is mixing up a thick paint. He shaves his head, strips and puts in protective contact lenses. Then he smears himself liberally with the paint. It is Henry’s daywalking experiment (13th attempt). He walks into the sunlight and rejoices, he can see the sun, but then he starts to burn. He makes it back to the garage – somewhat crispier than he was before. Henry was a surfer before being turned and desperately misses the sun. At the end of the film we hear him talk of Seattle and the high suicide rate due to, he believes, the many rainy days and lack of sun. “Being a vampire,” he says insightfully, “Is like living in Seattle all the time.”

Avi Hartman as AviThere are several other vampires all sharing a house and one of the astounding things about the film is that, whilst we don’t hear too much about most of their backgrounds, we learn enough about their characters to bond with many of them. Avi (Avi Hartman) is a paramedic and Larry (James Brownlee) – or Laurencio de la Ciscaren – claims to have been an assassin but now is a doorman at a hotel. He is a traditionalist vampire, sleeping in a coffin whilst all the others sleep in beds. Thomas (Adam Langley) is a frat boy and the youngest of the vampires, whilst Darren (Brandon Hayes) owns the house and several businesses.

Harpo offers to shareAlso living in the house is Harpo (Korey Simone), who is clearly mad – theories range from the idea that he was staked in the head and never recovered, to the idea that he fell into the ocean and walked to show, but chose the wrong direction and ended up in America- he has almost savant moments, for example with a violin. He has a tendency to eat small furry animals from time to time and in an almost throw away moment, blick and you’d miss it, we do see him sucking on a used tampon.

the huntersThe hunters, on the other hand, are geeks. Led by Ricky (Jason Small), who works in a comic book store, they also include Andrew (Paul Evans) who is a pizza delivery boy and Billy (Frank Weysos) who is ostensibly the muscle. There is also Ethan (J.R. Zambrano), the inventor of the group. Some of his ideas work, such as metal neck collars, but others such as tanning cream as a weapon – if it tans it should kill a vampire – fail miserably. Incidentally it is only sunlight that kills in this, Henry uses a tanning booth. Finally there is Seth, who espouses the idea that Jesus was a vampire – a concept we have come across before.

Jessica Dill as SaraThe hunters believe they saw a med student called Sara (Jessica Dill) fight off a vampire. In fact what they saw was a lovers tiff between Sara and Avi, who were in a relationship at the time. Because of this the hunters all have developed a crush on her – there is a scene when Andrew tries to introduce a character called Sara into their thrice weekly Dungeons and Dragons sessions – it has to be said that they are crushes that are almost akin to stalking. It is because of their obsession with Sara, and the fact that Avi still has feelings for her, that the vampires and hunters actually cross paths.

Vlady runs a shish kebab stallFurther lore includes the idea that vampires can’t get stoned in conventional ways and so they keep a guy called Kyle (Christian Huey) around. A pot head of the highest order, they buy him his drugs and he lets them drink his blood. Avi tells us that Dracula and Lestat are just fictional but when asked about Vlad the Impaler he calls him Vlady and says that he runs a shish kebab stall downtown.

you have to get the heartA stake through the heart will kill a vampire, but it has to be in the heart. Staking to the left will miss as the heart is in the centre of the body. To turn someone a vampire’s blood must get into their mouth – it is as simple as that. The vampires are pretty much immortal – Larry is 500 – but do not seem to have any more strength than a mortal man.

messy eaterVampires can be captured on film but cast no reflection in mirrors. Religion does not seem to be an issue. Larry puts a drop of holy water in his drink to spice it up, but that is shown to be a delusion on his part. Avi gets rather upset when a cross is pushed in his face but that is because he is a Jew (and wears a Star of David) and finds the act offensive. Thomas, for his part, is a rather messy eater but he is less practiced than his brethren.

Jason Small as RickyThe acting all works. Everyone feels natural but special mention to Jason Small, who was very good as Ricky, and Avi Hartman, who was a revelation as Avi. I did notice Brandon Hayes accent slipping in places but that was a very small thing. The film has a wonderful undercurrent of absurdity that works really well but what really does make it is the writing – the target audience will get a lot out of the dialogue, that’s for sure.

All in all an excellent addition to the genre, making the most out of what it had and creating a little gem. Indeed, I have to say that it stood the test of a second viewing, being as enjoyable the second time around. 7 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


alex said...

hi,you can help me?

which the name of these films? or the name of the actresses?


Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Alex, the first is from Requiem for a Vampire and is the actress Mireille Dargent.

The second is a little more difficult and there is not a lot of context but I’ll have a think and see if inspiration hits. If you have a better quality pic then please post it.

Alex said...


thanks,thanks and thanks!!!

the first are ok!!!!

the second i dont have a better pic!!sorry

I am looking for a long time! I dont find !!!i think, must be a wery very old (film)

one more time thanks!!!

I am from Brazil!!!!


Taliesin_ttlg said...

Alex, keep checking, I might get inspiration re it... I have been trying to work it out.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Alex, something tells me that the second one might be from Count Yorga, Vampire, but that is guessing - check it out and let me know.

Alex said...


OH MAN,you are great !!!!!I love this blog

second one might it is of from Count Yorga, Vampire,
I delayed 2 days to find the photo

thanks and continues with this excellent blog...

Taliesin_ttlg said...

no prob Alex

Unknown said...

Came across this one on youtube as a trailer. Video does not seem to be available. Do you know of any?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Bruce, I was given access to a screener... I'm not sure if it ever managed getting a distribution or not. But keep an eye out as more and more films are hitting Video On Demand